Tag Archives: Singletrack

Fat Tyre Buzz

There is a thing about being spoilt and having a selection of bikes. To be honest though, I don’t feel that spoilt as I did buy them all! That aside, if, like me, you started as a mountain biker, and took many years to get into road cycling, then you might be able to relate.

Yesterday I went for my mid week ride with Trevor. He was riding well, and seems fresh and ready to go following his 24hr podium. I am trying to get a little fitness, and having ridden 3 or 4 times recently with The Pretty One I am beginning to get there.

My decision yesterday was that I would ride to the meeting point, and then start the ride from there. I had been told that it was 13miles, which sounded reasonable. It was 16 miles in the end, but the main point of what I am writing is this.

Riding a mountain bike on the road isn’t ideal! I know that it is good training and if you are double hard like Jeff you can do it, but I would prefer not to! I chose the hardtail, with Conti Race Kings, because they roll so well. After the road bike though, this setup will always feel really sluggish, and trying to TT to the meeting point I was sorely missing the road bike. The route included a few long straight uphill sections, and is traffic heavy with commuter traffic which passes mere cms from my bar ends. It was a case of tucking in, ducking down and concentrating on turning the gears. The wind was against me too, so the 17.5mph average was extremely good work.

Once in the woods though, the bike came alive again, and all was forgiven. The singletrack was twisty and demanding like always, and my nerves aren’t as strong as they have been following my face plant last week. Also, the race king tyres met their limits on some of the more polished compacted gravel sections, where the small knobs of the profile couldn’t get traction and the front end was a ‘little’ wishy washy.

50km on a school night is a good effort in my lardy arsed opinion.

Thanks to Trevor for bringing me home too.


USE and I

Beginning to feel like I am a cyclist now. It has taken a while and I am still trying to get back in the correct frame of mind. I am moving in the right direction, with three rides in 8 days. Of course, very little by Jeff’s or Dave’s standard (Jeff being completely insane and having one of the best jobs in the World, and Dave being completely insane, and just insane – he recently scouted, and rode Wales coast to coast – 328km and 11,200m of climbing in 22.5 hours – madness).

This evening I decided that I needed to ride. In fact, yesterday I decided that tonight was the night, and so I emailed the boys at U.S.E / Exposure to see if they were interested in a ride. As a result, I met up with Mr.USE at Crowthorne Woods, which adjoins Swinley (where I rode the other day). Mr.USE was far fitter than I was, so it was a good challenge to try to keep up with him. He had one advantage, that being that he knew the trials really well, but this was perhaps balance nicely by my riding a full suspension XC bike against his hard tail. The riding here is fast, furious and technical. There is not a dull moment as the miles and miles of singletrack that is there, can be pieced together in a never ending roller coaster. The roots and the tight switchbacks between the trees being the only thing that could catch you out. My bike flattered me, with the suspension eating up my mistakes with both wheels. I dread to think what it would have been like on the Klein! Mr.USE on the other hand showed his superior skill and fitness throughout, but at least he was nice about it. Oh, and it wasn’t the Mr.USE you might think!

The forest this evening was again full of riders. Serious riders though. We must have seen about 40 people out with their bikes. It must be the dry spell, but it is encouraging to see.

I am feeling the addiction coming back. It’s great.

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London isn’t well known for its mountain biking. It is however a popular sport. The trouble is that everyone needs somewhere to ride.

To the west of London there is a ‘bike park’. Although this isn’t a bike park in the way that those in Wales are, the forest in Bracknell has a huge network of interweaving singletrack. You simply ride down one of the fire roads, and dive off into the forest wherever you see an opening. It is fast and twisty, and in places quite technical. At the same time it is accessible, with it as hard or difficult as you want it to be. Most of the danger comes from the speed at which you take the twisty sections, as trees are hard. This is precisely the location that was suggested for the 2012 Olympics, which I would support fully, however, I think that it has been decided that 45min from the centre of London is too far, so there will be a car park to ride around (I don’t know this, but I have a feeling in my bones!). What is difficult is knowing your way around. It is hugely easy to become lost, but that isn’t too difficult to rectify, as the car park is signposted fairly well throughout.

Yesterday I visited the Bracknell forest centre, and was riding alone. I have a thing about cycling, that essentially it is a solitary activity, but I don’t object to riding with people at any time. It also makes it a little more social, and it is the social element that is lacking for me at this time. What the forest wasn’t short of was riders. The carpark was full of cars with bike racks, and expensive machinery. I find it kind of ironic, how comparatively ‘over-biked’ people seem to be, but I suppose if you spend a lot of time travelling to Wales, or other ‘proper’ mountain biking in the UK, you will get a bike that is suitable to that application. I ask myself also if it is a case of wanting something that is a lot different to the standard ‘diamond’ design to identify yourself as being a ‘mountain biker’ in an area without mountains? I don’t know, but sometimes I wonder.

I rode for a couple of hours, fully overbiked myself. It was like little sprints between fast rolling twisty sections.

Great fun.